- Publication date
- 1904-00-00 00:00:00
Related Music (Beta) question-dark
Versions - Different performances of the song by the same artist
Compilations - Other albums which feature this performance of the song
Covers - Performances of a song with the same name by different artists
|Ave Maria (1904)|
Subject: Has this been digitally cleaned up later?
So therefore, it would be very interesting to hear a cleaned-up version, so that we may get to know what the castrati once ACTUALLY sounded like.
Subject: Not impressed
Subject: Public Domain
A pretty good rule of thumb is that wax cylinder recordings are in the public domain, but as of 2012 no more modern recordings (vinyl discs and later media).
Creative Commons Commercial Use?
I do not know why, but learning the meaning of castrato made me feel a bit odd.
Subject: What a real mistake was sticking the label "castrato" up top
Subject: For wajewboi,about Prof.Moreschi
I have never heard such a singer as Prof.Moreschi!It was extraordinary!I would love to talk with you,if you read this message,can you answer me?
Subject: Eerie, yes...
And one quick word: Castration is NOT Circumcision, so why all you people are carrying on about circumcision is baffling...
Subject: Castrati and circumcision
Not exactly the best place to debate circumcision, but to the person who said it prevents diseases: propaganda from greedy American doctors. Believe it or not, the rest of the world is not dying off because they aren't circumcised! Sheesh!
Subject: Great Song....really hits you.
Subject: Besides being a castrati...
I do have to admit that there was a something erie sounding to the vocal intonation. One could definitely tell that this was a male voice too.
Interesting enough, I was under the impression that it would sound more female... perhaps I need to hear the other recordings.
Yes and to the person who claims that a male loses 70% of sexual intensity in circumcision, that's total bullshit.. Do your homework.
Men who have not had circumcision are more prone to problems in the bedroom then men without it. Any woman whose had experience with both will tell you the men who are uncircumcised are more difficult. Now, perhaps you are an exception but the idea that you can compare castration to circumcision and not female castration just shows what a sexist ass you are.
Subject: Some bad, some good
If anyone in a strong choral group knows, men can, and do, out sing women in volume on a one-to-one basis. This is the other reason (I believe) why Castrati were popular then. One Castrato could be heard in a greater range than one femaile could. People today don't go en mass to listen to large groups as compared to those who sing solos or a small group where you can often tell the difference in parts. With the technology available with microphones, both men and women can sound equally loud, when their is a difference without.
This is not the same song, but this following male child singer has yet to appear to have hit puberty in the following piece: .
Now, why I rated the song Ave Maria here three star is in part due to the fact is it such a poor quality recording. I also dislike the way he heavily uses grace notes.
There is a reason he performed at the funeral for the Italian King when he was assassinated in 1900. He was one of the top singers in 1900. While I dislike his style, I can recognize he had talent.
Subject: lousy noise
Subject: The Song Itself
Every time I hear this song, no matter who is singing it, I find it haunting and so beautiful. Even just an instrumental is beautiful.
Subject: Some Clarification
First of all, very few of the Castrati of history had any say in the matter of their castration. With the exception of a few (maybe two or three) of the great castrati, most notably among them Cafarelli (a contemporary of the better known Farinelli), who insisted on his own castration, the great majority of castrati became castrati without any wanting to do so. It was, as with so many things, largely a case of money. Poor families would have a son castrated in the hope that he would become a good enough castrato to earn the family money. The chances of this happening were somewhere near 1/50 or 1/100. The chances of his becoming a Farinelli or Cafarelli were closer to 1/1000 or 1/10000. They went off to the catholic church (which disapproved of castration, but was also the beneficiary of the talent, as they could maintain the rule that women stay "Silent in Church" while still having soprano voices that lasted a long time. Only the very best of the castrati could become opera singers, where they could become very wealthy and famous. The main thing that distinguished a castrato voice from a female soprano, mezzo, alto or contralto (castrato voices were not all soprano, Senesino was a Contralto) was that the larynx of the castrato was that of a boy, but the lungs of a castrato were those of a man. They had incredible power and control over their voices, and obviously an ethereal timbre that cannot be replicated.
Now on to Moreschi. By 1820, the castrati were out of fashion in opera and the process of castration was (rightly) seen as repulsive and inhumane. Moreschi, who began to sing fifty years after the end of the era of the castrati, was so far removed from the tradition (even when he was young, he was one of probably less than 100 castrati singing in the world), that he cannot possibly represent the art that a Farinelli or Senesino brought to his singing. He also sang only church music, and thus sang with little or no ornamentation. He represents a rather average castrato, who was equipped with a fine voice, but was by no stretch of the imagination a great singer. His place in history is as the castrato who was recorded. By 1921, the last castrato singing in the Sistine Chapel choir was replaced, and the castrati were no more.
Castrati were a fact of life in spiritual and operatic music from 1600 to 1820. All castrati, regardless of talent, were mutilated in order to be given their voice, and almost none of them wished it to be so. It is nice to have Moreschi's recordings, but the best way to know the kind of singers the great castrati were is to study the music that was written for them. If you want to hear a hint of what they would have sounded like, listen to countertenor David Daniels.
Much of the information I have given is presented in Richard Somerset-Ward's book Angels and Monsters. I would suggest reading it if you are seriously interested in Opera and soprano roles.
Subject: Can any one here use this writing tool?
Subject: Oh, no...
Come on people! Seriously!
Subject: opinion of a unsophisticated music lover
Subject: The only extant recording of a castrati singer.
Subject: see 'duet' featuring Moreschi
Subject: Just about average rendition of Ave Maria
It wasn't close to the cat timbre that I was expecting...but closer to a Tiny Tim sound that haunts...yet becomes popular to some sort of novelty in his day... Still...I was expecting a little better with the voice...which is the main reason I rated the recording so low...
Subject: C'mon now
This is for the people claiming Moreschi has bad singing technique.
"It should also be mentioned that Moreschi's vocal technique can grate upon modern ears; many of his seemingly imperfect vocal attacks are in fact grace notes, launched from as much as a tenth below the note up to the note itself. Furthermore, the dated aesthetic of Moreschi's singing, which involved extreme passion in the singing and a perpetual type of sob, often sounds bizarre to the modern listener and can be misinterpreted as technical weakness or an aging voice."
here's the link:
So before you random people start to talk bad about how horrific it must have been, or how haunting his voice is do some decent research to put the CONTENT in CONTEXT.
Castration is barbaric? I do agree with that but at the same time they did live the life of Rock Stars, seeing as how women adored them and castrato singers were in HIGH demand at that time seeing as there were hunderds of churches and only so many castrato singers.
And if you still want to talk bad on his singing. You didn't read the above paragraph or click on the link.
So I'll say that, this recording was done in 1904 and he was either 44 or 46.(I forgot)Which most singers would agree is when your voice is usually at the "prime." But what people failed to mention is that losing the testicles, males age a LOT faster than normal. A 25 year old castrato might infact look like a 55-60 year old man. I don't know if it's the same with the voice in the aging time line, but something that affects aging to THAT extent must have some effect on the voice.
Point being, it might have been way past his prime.
At 25 Moreschi's range(as mentioned on Wiki.) is C' to E'''
In this recording it has aged down to A' to G''
Hope this puts a new perspective on things, and puts this recording in the right context for some real critique.
To all those who simply write "Ew! This is disgusting! No! Why can't they use females?", I simply say that we are looking at this from a modern-day view. In the past a castrato's voice was a wonderful thing, something full of emotion. The operation was /NOT/ pointless. It is scientifically proven that the vocal chords of a castrati will stretch further than one of a regular male or female opera singer.
So, as few have said, before you make a large comment in CAPS... think.
Could Tiny Tim be an endocrinological castrati?
Subject: Castrato? There must be an easier way...
May I suggest a swift kick in the nuts just before you go on stage: that should be enough to do the trick.
Just a thought.
Subject: I like it
Subject: oh my!
oh and big ups to my number 1 gur sean!!!
yeah she white!
Subject: While I know nothing of music...
My nonexistant balls (I am female) still hurt from the knowledge that this was sung by a man, fully grown, whose testes were mutilated for the sake of art. Yet, as I read Kelly Greene's review, I thought of a friend of mine who told me it took months (a few years?) of practice and coughing up blood for his voice to reach the rather unpleasant (to me) lower ranges that Rammstein favors. As much as I'm appalled (as many were) that this man suffered through castration to reach a voice which nearly gave me nightmares--I had to stay up long past my bedtime and talk to friends to attempt and forget this haunting voice--singers and artists of today still do horrible things to their body.
That said, I did some research as to the situation of the castrati during the past three months and while I'm still rather traumatized by it, I can see and perhaps understand--but not agree--a bit why the Church turned a blind eye to this. I can even imagine that some ambitious children--not just the parents... human nature doesn't limit things such as stardom lust to adults after all--might've agreed to undergo castration.
Overall, yes, the quality of the recording is bad for our times but it was a breakthrough for them. The man's voice... I can't say anything about it except that it troubles me a lot. Piano? I know even less about that. I give this a hesitant 3/5 as I know I honestly want to give it 1/5 for the scare I went through, but 5/5 would only work if I knew anything about music beyond downloading mp3s for my listening pleasure.
Subject: Not his best
You can hear that somewhat better one at
Subject: Apples and Bananas, your opinion, but...
Having not heard castrati sing, we only can go off of what reports say. Mystique certainly plays a role.
But IF it's true, what physiological difference would account for it? Again, women, like castrati, do not undergo the testosterone-induced thickening of the vocal cords. So what PHYSICALLY would account for the supposed differences?
Could it be that the continued growth of castrati, far past when women cease to grow, could give them a deeper lung capacity that changes the 'timbre'?
Looking for the 'why's', not the 'just because it is'.
Subject: then and now
Many did; castration - with the hope of a lifelong career singing in church - was a hit-and-miss "art/science"; the emasculation of most "victims" was, indeed, wasted, as they had neither talent nor potential.
As for those who bemoan the castrations - it's no more barbaric than the still far-too-common American practice of butchering male children (circumcision) and thereby depriving them of some 70% of sexual-pleasure nerve-endings. Any American mother (or m-to-be), or any American medico who objects to castration must, on principle, also object to their nation's barbarism re male circumcision.
And there's no way the timbre of a castrato - or a modern, intact, male soprano for that matter - can be compared with the timbre of a female voice; the two are apples and bananas.
If we had castrati today we'd have (a) beautiful music and (b) less overpopulation of the planet.
Subject: Keep the polotics out
Personally I found it fascinating and intoxicating and have listened many times.
For all those ppl who have cats that can allegedly sing better than Moreschi might i suggest they post some recordings for us to judge by!.. No Offers?.. ..NO? ...Didnt think so!!
Subject: And they cut of his balls to produce THAT!!!!
Regardless of the whys and wherefores that sounds amazing.
God Bless the Internet.
I think this guy would be utterly horrified at what WE consider entertainment today.
Heck, I'll put his era's "barbarism" up against our barbarism anyday. His century had, what, a handfull of castrati?
We go around cutting up 80% of our boys penises (and a high percentage of girls too) in this country and don't think a thing about it.
Subject: i was so freaked out
Subject: Unfair Trade
for an otherwise nice living, somebody should have at least taught him some technique. I am amazed at how untrained this voice sounds. The high register sounds rather unworldly but pretty.
But, what on earth is he doing when he throws his
voice into the lower registers as though he is
going for a slam dunk? What is that? I have heard excellent countertenors who kept all their
parts yet sang beautifully in their falsetto. I am aware of the difference between a castrati and a countertenor, but if the objective is only to have a man who sings like a woman, the means
did not justify the end. One is a trained artist
the other is a freak. It was a cruel human experimentation that died when the last castrati died a mere 20 or so years before the discovery of the concentration camps.
Frankly, what do the Italians think they are going to find left of a guy who has been dead nearly 300 years. They have a better chance digging up this guy.
Subject: the music is both moving and haunting & great history but...
I really wish that someone, with an appreciation for history & art, would re-master this, so that more people would be apt to listen.
Subject: We Are Lucky This Was Preserved
For those saying "how horrible" and "cat" comments, think of what someone from that era would say of hip-hop, rock, polka, or Tuva's throat-singing. This is the musical taste of the era, and shouldn't be judged by the taste of our era.
He was not a young man when the recording was made, and very well could have been nervous with all the very new technology surrounding him and other variables such as the recording being directed by a person with thought to the machinery not the performance. This was cutting-edge new at the time.
Try to hear the amazing parts of it - a fully matured adult male being able to put out notes that are impossible for probably any living adult male now - this was castrato soprano, not falsetto - they are different things.
Take it in its historical context - how it makes you feel is of course personal, but don't insult it or the man - they are products of the time.
Subject: I Used To Sing Like That
To the person that talked about chemical castration, that would only work if done when the child is 10 (or so). Once the Larynx is changed by hormones, there's no going back. Regardless of method of castration, nothing is going to change an adult male larynx back into that of a castratti.
Subject: Oh my goodness!!
Subject: Beautiful Hymn for Our Holy Mother
Subject: Quite good
Subject: I listened
Subject: Restoration Worthy
Subject: ave maria
the voice does stand out and is very clear and a little shaky at times but still good.
many men and women can sing but simply choose not to sing and hence while our voices are better before puberty not to mention that our parents do not encourage children enough today so a lot of natural and god given talent is being wasted.
the vatican outlawing castration was correct as it is morally and ethically wrong to castrate a child to keep the voice pure in tone and timbre.
on the other aspects I wish that we could travel back in time to actually see what we have missed from the past as they lived much fuller and more beautiful lives and to experience these and many other treasures.
as per the female that said her cat sounded better,ma'am if my 7 cats sounnded that good I'd be richer and more famous than sin.
Subject: Strange lovely sound from an alien past
Subject: wonderful privilege
First,let's get this out of the way-yes, it was a deplorable practice and I feel sorrow for the victims.
But the fact that he was 46 and the primitive recording equipment makes me marvel at what I can imagine he doubtless accomplished in his prime. I am thrilled to have been able to hear it.
Can you opera lovers imagine the Flower Song from Lakme done as a castrati duet? Incredible!
I also wonder if those who disliked this didn't let their abhorrence get in the way. What would you have thought if you had been told it was a woman?
Did anyone consider that these Castrati made the choice to be castrated? Does anyone remmeber that not long ago you were considered an adult and getting married in the early teens?
Much like a Sumo wrestler gains weight to be an elite. An asian woman bound her feet to keep them small and danty to please a suitor, or the castrati to gain elite status as a great Suprano male. Sure women can reach this vocal range with training.. but for a Male to do it... you are unique. People reviere you. i'll lay wager that these 'boys' chose the lifestyle.
The quality of the old technology is one of the best from that time period. I'm amazed at its lack of faults. The few it has are inherent in the technology itself.
Also you can hear the distance of his voice. He wasnt standing next to the recorder when it was made, yet the instrument was closer. I think the musician wasnt as good as the singer...
At 40 I wish my voice is as strong as this mans voice. I'm past my singing prime and in my days I was at best a Tenor with tips into the Alto.
The act of cutting the testicals depends on whether its willing or forced to make it barbaric. Otherwise it's no worse than circumcizing a baby? Who here chose to be circumcized? who here willingingly got piercings in places that are normal or tabboo? To willfully choose something upon yourself is nothing.
Remember a different time period and a different level of thought. To be the elite someone from the past would cut off their own testicals to be angelic singers.
The church might have thought it was barbaric.. but let us review the church and their...'barbaric' history... think on it...
A Male choosing to never have children.. and likely to be Eunic and never have Lust... There are monks who did much the same thing. But for a young man to have this done would be against the chrch is some ways because you cant 'proliferate'.
The historical collection of this is a 5, the mans ability is astounding. Into the dregs of history.
Subject: Count your blessings
That hurt my ears to listen to that. I'd love to go back 100 yrs and slap those who castrated young boys.
Subject: Last Known Castrati sings Ave Maria
Subject: It's art
Subject: listening is an art
I liked it.
Subject: Tiny Tim's Ancestor
My first reaction to listening to this song was to have a flashback of the human sacrifice scene with the terrified young woman in 'Interview with a Vampire'. I guess some things just don't need to be let into the human psyche. The castrati belongs on the dark side of human nature.
Subject: Disturbing? Maybe.
The problem in that in most of these reviews, people have focused entirely on the fact that yes, this man was castrated so that he could sing this way. I will agree that the recording itself is poor, but you must remember it was made over a century ago on what was then considered top-of-the-line technology. It is scratchy, grainy, and at times it sounds sort of funny and 'off', like someone is playing with the record. It happens.
It's also good to remember that this man was well into his late fourties, if not his fifties, when this recording was made. It is obvious, painfully so at times, that he is unsure of the notes, or perhaps of his capabilities. And it's no wonder; as we age, we become less confident in ourselves. Is it bothersome? Maybe a little. Is it unnatural-sounding? Somewhat. It's a tone that most people aren't familiar with. It certainly isn't something our children grow up hearing on a day to day basis. I do believe that in this case a female voice could have done the same thing better, with ample training, but in its time this was all the rage, and it is a remarkable reminder of the once-coveted beauty of the voice of the castrati.
- Kayleigh, 20, Illinois
Subject: Are you kidding me?
Subject: Thank you.
Subject: The guy with the high voice
Subject: Echo of an Angel
Subject: So Sad
Subject: Basta Maria is more like it !
Pathetic and sad.
Subject: Close to Other Tracks of Moreschi
Subject: Modern-Day Digital?
Subject: Alesandro Moreschi
Forget the poor quality of the recording. Back then they didn't have the technology they do today to enhance the sounds, and smooth out the rough spots. I had some original recordings of Enrico Caruso, and even with his beautiful manly voice, it sounded bad because of the recording quality. Just think what those hearing music recorded today some 100 years from now might think. Especially when they listen to Rap.
Subject: Castrati / Farinelli
Subject: Misunderstood... and lovely.
Subject: Oh My God!
Subject: Too bad
Some who are young and we dont want to see grown up and child stars of tv.
Subject: Tragic, really...
I read the book "Cry to Heaven" by Ann Rice (She's not all vampires). The recording underscores the tragedy of this well-researched book. I recommend it, not because of its subject matter, which is fascinating, but for the study of the human element.
Subject: Very Sad!
It reminds me of the "Emporer's New Clothes". Everyone knew it was not a good sound, but no one dared say it....in fact it gave them social status to continue the farce.
The recording itself, considering it's time period, was of sufficent quality to comfortably access his voice. I heard a man without options doing the very best he could.
Subject: Alessandro Moreshi- 1904 recording
Subject: Glad we don't do THAT anymore
Subject: Holy Balls!
Subject: THAT WAS EXTREMELY HORRIFIC
Subject: How sick!
Subject: Get some perspective
Subject: An interesting song
Regardless, you should absolutely download this. Four stars because static is moderately loud.
Subject: My balls hurt.
Subject: Listen for Open, Powerful High Notes
Perhaps because of his age at the time of recording (he was ~46 yrs. old), Moreschi had trouble approaching and holding certain high notes. But once he landed on them, he could make them flower, opening up and resonating. It was beyond the common descriptor, "silvery." It was full and rich, rather than sounding pinched and shrill, like many modern sopranos.
I believe Moreschi was well-known (even famous) in his day, but is not representative of the great castrati, such as Farinelli. I can't imagine robbing any child of his testicles. Though, the great castrati voices must have been amazing. Perhaps, as modern culture opens its eyes to the full range of genders (there are far more than two), new vocal experiences will come our way!